The weather that normally accompanies the Barnett Memorial arrived at about the same time the tournament’s lead group arrived on the first tee box at Missoula Country Club.
But neither the swirling wind nor the intermittent rain could slow Brian Beach.
The Missoula native withstood the elements and charges from Ryan Porch and Devon Montoya to claim his second Barnett Memorial crown Monday with a 2-under-par 69 and a three-day total of 9-under-par 203 to beat Porch by five strokes.
“It’s awesome to win in my hometown, it feels really good,” said Beach after completing his third consecutive round in the 60s. “I was kind of struggling a few years ago and last season and up until now. I kind of figured that out.”
As a decidedly pro-Beach gallery added members throughout the day, the former Big Sky golfer put on a show from the tee where he consistently sent his drives 300-plus yards.
When they weren’t landing in the fairway, Beach proved more than capable of navigating MCC’s wealth of trees to find the green, where he excelled throughout the weekend.
“His putter was on fire the past two days I played with him,” said Montoya, who made a run at Beach before a double bogey at No. 16 dropped him six shots behind the leader.
Never did Beach need more than two putts and when it seemed like Montoya and Porch were poised to close in, it was the flatstick that set Beach apart.
“A few of the putts I got perfect reads from Ben (Mills), Devon and Ryan and that really helped because a few of the putts I didn’t really know what they would do,” Beach said. “I snaked a few, a few dripped in for me and that helped a lot. Luck was on my side.”
He drained birdie puts on Nos. 8 and 9 to regain control after a second-consecutive day of difficulties on the par-4 seventh. He then added birdies at 11 at 15 and a crucial par putt at 16 that closed the door on his pursuers.
After a wayward approach on seven clipped a tree and sent his ball caroming to the other side of the fairway, Beach had to scramble to save bogey.
He then put both of his drives on eight and nine in ideal locations and stuffed his approaches to within 10 feet and promptly sank both putts.
“It was pretty crucial, honestly,” Beach said. “Ben and Ryan birdieing eight was closing the gap so I knew I had to make that putt. … It was just a grind on the back nine.”
It was also -- for the most part -- a shot-for-shot battle with Montoya.
On the 411-yard, par-4 11th, Montoya sent his drive into the trees. While the smart play was to punch out, Montoya grabbed a seven-iron out of his bag and hit a sweeping fade that cut between two trees and landed on the front edge of the green 40 feet from the hole.
He nearly made the putt for an improbable birdie.
Montoya went to the 16th with an outside chance of chasing the Missoula golfer down, but his approach landed in a greenside bunker. A plugged lie from the short-side trap left Montoya little room to work with and he had to settle for double bogey.
Porch also made his run with birdies on five and eight. But on the first hole on the back, his second shot clipped a tree and caromed into the pond. Though he saved par, the Idaho golfer followed with a double bogey on 11 where he hit his approach underneath a green-side pine and then flubbed the chip.
From there it was all Beach, who closed his round with a birdie on the 18th with about 40 people looking on. He sent a 4-iron from 250 on the green and two-putted from there to clinch the win.
“Putts dropped for me and I made a few up and downs,” Beach said. “The competition was really, really fun today.”
Beach was one of two Montana natives to claim first on Monday.
Hailey Hoagland, a Butte native who golfs for Montana, claimed the women’s title after a three-day total of 232 to top Jackie Mee by three shots.
Hoagland, who was playing in her first Memorial tournament, closed her weekend with a 10-over 81.
“As the days progressed the pins got tougher and tougher,” Hoagland said. “Today you could definitely tell. For the girls the scores were higher than they were the other two days. It was a good challenge and a really good weekend.”